The past two weeks have been unbelievable in Tanzania, and I know it will just keep getting better as the month goes on. Since the last blog I wrote a week ago, my classmates and I have had opportunities to travel to new areas and parks in the northern region of Tanzania. Each day, whether we’re doing projects in the field or just learning within our camp, my eyes are opened more and more as I learn so much information, see amazing landscapes and animals, and gain excitement for my future.
Last Thursday, we travelled to Tarangire National Park and we worked in groups to find elephants and make observations to contribute to a long-term, ongoing research project. That day was so fun for me because I was contributing to a legitimate research project and could get a glimpse into what it’s like to make behavioral observations in the field. Additionally, the park was breathtaking and made me stop and think about so many different ideas and preconceived notions I have had in my mind about life and the future.
We also took our safari cars to Manyara Ranch Conservancy this weekend and met with the head manager of the the protected natural resource buffer zone. As the manager talked with us about wildlife management and the steps it takes to come up with and implement sufficient wildlife management plans, I realized how challenging, yet rewarding, the task can be. Wildlife Managers must work with so many advocates from different perspectives and work to find solutions and plans to protect and conserve wildlife and natural resources, while still benefitting local communities. After hearing his speech, then driving through the ranch and seeing the resources available and the issues that can arise, including poaching, wildlife-livestock conflict, and human-wildlife conflict, I felt reassured about my life goals.
On various occasions, like most people, I question myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’m heading down the right path and living my life the way I should be living it. This trip has offered so much to me, including amazing memories, unbelievable friendships/relationships, and a crazy amount of fun.
However, one of the most important things I’ve gained over and over the past few weeks is self-assurance and a feeling of contentment regarding where I am in life. I have been able to pause and realize that I really feel like I’m where I am supposed to be, and that usually doesn’t happen to me very often.
After learning more about wildlife management, conservation, and getting some experience in field work, I have a new sense of excitement for the future that I haven’t felt in some time. I feel like I have a whole life ahead of me, and I have confidence that I’m going to live it the right way. I have gained new ideas and visions for my future and career aspirations that I can be proud of and comfortable with. I know now that working towards becoming a wildlife biologist and/or wildlife manager is a path that I would very much enjoy and I have a sense of rejuvenation to reach those goals.